Airs dom­i­nate Jets ahead of sea­son

Taranaki Daily News - - Community Sport - MICK MC­BETH

Around 180 fans were treated to some qual­ity bas­ket­ball at the TSB Hub in Ha¯ wera on Sun­day af­ter­noon as the Au­gusta Taranaki Moun­tain Airs wel­comed the Manawatu¯ Jets back into the league af­ter their two-year hia­tus.

As the 2018 NBL sea­son draws near, Airs coach Trent Adam and Manawatu¯ ’s in­terim coach Tim McTam­ney took the op­por­tu­nity to try out their sys­tems.

Taranaki had the bulk of their NBL squad on show, mi­nus two im­ports who will join this week.

The Jets took first points in the game and early signs looked like it may be a scrappy night for the Airs with the Jets fight­ing hard in ev­ery pos­ses­sion.

Taranaki big man Thane O’Leary showed plenty of prom­ise, top scor­ing with 25 points for the night. O’Leary looked full of en­ergy and fear­less which would have been en­cour­ag­ing for coaches, Adam and Dave Bublitz.

Point guard Hous­ton O’Ri­ley once again showed his class, tak­ing con­trol of the game at key mo­ments.

Airs im­port Roger Woods looked a solid aqui­si­tion, show­ing strength and de­fen­sive smarts.

The crowd were brought to their feet in the third quar­ter with Woods and Dane Brooks show­cas­ing a cou­ple of thun­der­ing dunks as the Airs found their of­fen­sive rhythm.

While the score line isn’t the pri­or­ity in a pre-sea­son match, the Airs would be pleased to have run out win­ners 84 - 60.

A no­table statis­tic was the foul count, with the Airs keep­ing their dis­ci­pline in com­mit­ting just 8 fouls in the match.

Coach Adam was en­cour­aged by what he saw in the hit out. ‘‘I liked our floor spac­ing and de­fence when we were locked in. Un­for­tu­nately that wasn’t for the full game but there were some re­ally good pe­ri­ods. For a pre­sea­son match, I give them around a 75 per cent mark.’’

Coach McTam­ney was also en­cour­aged by the show­ing of his side which fea­tured 2017 Airs squad mem­ber and for­mer FDMC head boy, Matthew O’Con­nell.

‘‘We found out a lot from our play­ers, mostly pleas­ing things. For some of our play­ers, it was their first chance at this level and I felt they played ex­cep­tion­ally.’’

The 2018 Airs cap­tain Alonzo Bur­ton wants his team to keep up the in­ten­sity showed in clos­ing out the game to­day.

‘‘First and fore­most, we want to make the play­offs this year. We need to be to­gether as a team, do what we love to do and have fun do­ing it.’’

RE­SULT: Au­gusta Airs 84 (Thane O’Leary 25, Roger Woods

13, Hous­ton O’Ri­ley 12, Xavier Shaw 11) Manawatu¯ 60

❚ The Airs’ first match is away vs Manawatu¯ Jets on Sun­day, April

29 be­fore play­ing their first home game at 7pm on Fri­day, May 4 against Hawkes Bay.

Taranaki’s Alonzo Bur­ton goes up for a shot vs the Manawatu¯ Jets.

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